• 3 Days

The Polar Bears of Kaktovik

  • Basecamp Retreat
  • Nature Immersion
  • 3 days; 2 nights
  • 2 to 6 travelers
  • Begins & ends in Kaktovik
There’s one place, and one place only, to see polar bears in America. You have to travel to the country’s northernmost point, the very apex of Alaska’s North Slope, to the permafrost shores that stretch out on either side of the Inupiat town of Kaktovik. Kaktovik’s backdrop is the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with its magnificent, snow-covered, 9,000-foot-high Brooks Range, where musk ox and reindeer, beavers and grizzlies, live in America’s last untouched wilderness. Take a walk on the wild side and observe polar bears in their natural habitat along the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. You'll safely view and photograph polar bears— resting on sand spits and feasting on whale meat — from the comfort of a small boat or a passenger van. Experience this rare and special wildlife encounter with Robert Thompson, one of the world's most seasoned bear guides. Learn about Kaktovik's whaling tradition through its villagers, a group of isolated subsistence hunters. Around Labor Day each year, the villagers use harpoons and guns to hunt for the three Bowhead Whales allotted to them. The villagers butcher the whales and push the bones to a pile where bears feed on the remnants of the whales throughout the winter. Tales of the previous night's bear sightings are mixed with hot meals for guests and villagers alike, in meaningful feasts that date back for generations. By staying in the stark and fascinating Inupiat Eskimo village of Kaktovik, you'll learn about Inupiat native culture up-close and get a unique perspective of native life.read more

At a Glance

Creature comforts


Physical activity


Ground support



  • Ocean
  • Village Life


  • For ages 12+
  • Fluent english spoken


  • Wildlife
  • Indigenous culture

Your Local Expert

Robert Thompson

Your expert guide is Captain Robert Thompson, United States Coast Guard certified master boat operator. This designation certifies your guide may safely transport passengers in federal waters, off the coast of the Arctic Refuge. Thompson has unprecedented knowledge of Arctic animals and the region's delicate ecosystem, and is well known in environmental circles in protecting the integrity of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. Robert pioneered polar bear viewing as a viable industry in Kaktovik.

The Journey

Day 1

You'll catch a morning flight from Fairbanks to Kaktovik, an Inupiat village of about 300 located on Barter Island. When you arrive on Barter Island we will transfer you from the airstrip to the Kaktovik Bed & Breakfast — a cozy homestay and a guesthouse of your guide, Robert Thompson. Once there, you'll grab lunch, as well as a brief orientation for the journey. After lunch, you'll find your way to the harbor, where rustic planks lead down to open-air boats that hold a maximum of six passengers each. Here, Robert, your local guide, will give instructions on bear viewing and proper bear etiquette. At last, you will set out on his boat to see the bears. If the weather doesn't cooperate, you'll be able take a local van to the beach, which will provide an equally impressive view of the bears. Lunch and dinner are included in Kaktovik. You will sleep overnight at the Kaktovik Bed & Breakfast.read more

Day 2

Today, you'll spend a full day viewing bears. You will have a 3-hour morning session and 3-hour afternoon session from a boat with a lunch break in between. Additional time will be spent on land photographing bears or searching for arctic foxes and snowy owls. Conditions permitting, you may look for and photograph northern lights in the evenings. You will sleep at the Kaktovik Bed & Breakfast.

Day 3

Today you will spend the first half of the day watching polar bears from Robert's boat. Later in the afternoon, you will take a flight back to Fairbanks. You will sleep overnight in Fairbanks.


  • Meals

    All meals, homecooked

  • Lodging

    Two nights at the cozy Kaktovik B&B homestay.

  • Transportation

    Day tours by boat and van to see the bears

Not Included

  • Flights

    Flights from Fairbanks to Kaktovik can be arranged on scheduled Ravn Air departures that we're happy to assist securing.

Private Departures

Private departures, for just you and your friends or family

Flexible dates

  • 2 travelers$2500 per person
  • 3 travelers$2350 per person
  • 4 travelers$2200 per person
  • 5 travelers$2100 per person
  • 6 travelers$2100 per person
Pricing depends on group size and host availability

Similar journeys

Not quite what you seek?

We'll match you with the right local expert for a free online consult

$2500 / person